Suspended Pakistan chief justice attends 'misconduct' hearings as protests continue

[JURIST] Pakistan's Supreme Judicial Council [governing constitutional provisions] held a hearing Tuesday on the alleged misconduct of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry [official profile] as Pakistanis protested in the streets and lawyers boycotted courts across the country. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [official website; BBC profile] suspended [JURIST report] Chaudhry Friday for alleged misconduct. Chaudhry has questioned whether he will receive a fair hearing by the Council, which held a closed-door two-hour session Tuesday before adjourning proceedings until Friday. Chaudhry has been confined to his home in Islamabad since Friday and claims his phones and TV at home have been disconnected and his vehicles confiscated.

Over 200 lawyers and liberal party supporters protested [Reuters report] outside the Supreme Court Tuesday. On Monday, twenty Pakistani lawyers were injured by riot police [JURIST report] when more than 3,000 lawyers gathered outside the Lahore High Court [official website] building for a sit-in. Chaudhry's suspension has been condemned by lawyers as an attack on the judiciary's independence. Pakistan's Electronic Media Regulatory Authority [official website] reprimanded TV channels Monday for showing live footage of the protests supporting Chaudhry; channels Aaj and Geo were forced off the air temporarily. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has called on the Pakistani government to end the arbitrary detention [press release] of Chaudhry and cease the police crackdown on lawyers staging peaceful protests. Chaudhry assumed the position of chief justice in 2005, and has developed a reputation for being willing to investigate alleged government abuses involving the illegal detention of political activists. Reuters has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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